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Invading America (Hardback)

The English Assault on the New World 1497-1630

Maritime > Seaforth Publishing Military > Pre-WWI > American History

Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781848321458
Published: 6th June 2012



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Within a generation of Columbus's first landfall in the Caribbean, Spain ruled an empire in central and south America many times the size of the home country. In stark contrast, after a century of struggle, and numerous disasters, English colonising efforts further north had succeeded in settling the banks of one waterway and the littoral of several bays. How and why progress was so slow and laborious is the central theme of this thought-provoking new book. It argues that this is best understood if the development of the English colonies is seen as a protracted amphibious operation, governed by all the factors that traditionally make for success or failure in such endeavours – aspects such as proper reconnaissance, establishing a secure bridgehead and timely reinforcement.

Invading America examines the vessels and the voyages, the unrealistic ambitions of their promoters, the nature of the conflict with the native Indians, and the lack of leadership and cooperation that was so essential for success. Using documentary evidence and vivid first-hand accounts, it describes from a new perspective the often tragic, sometimes heroic, attempts to settle on the American coast and suggests why these so often ended in failure.

As this book shows, the emergence of a powerful United States was neither inevitable nor easily achieved.

Childs is an authority on Tudor maritime and naval history. 'Invading America' provides insight into the nature of shipboard life and the science of navigation in the era. There remains much to praise here. Childs' systematic study of early English efforts in North America is a strong contribution to the literature. Does an excellent job. A wealth of illustrations helps the reader envision the technical details of ships and fortifications, a useful tool for nonspecialists.


Historians since Hakluyt have remarked on England’s slowness in establishing New World colonies, especially in comparison with her rival, Spain. David Childs seeks to explain the widespread failure of early English colonies by viewing them as beachheads in an extended amphibious campaign. Childs identifies the factors crucial for successful amphibious operations, which, when absent, doomed would-be settlers from Baffin Island to the Carolinas.
Invading America is a detailed, cleverly written synthesis. Childs has an excellent grasp of the material, and an impressive command of the primary sources.

The Northern Mariner

The author has reviewed the marine technology available and illustrated this with details and images of modern reconstructions of vessels of the period. This is a fascinating account of a very important stage in colonial development, told well, and supported by a large number of illustrations in the form of maps, engravings, sketches and photographs. The author has also cast light on a period that has received little previous coverage by either English or American authors and publishers.

Firetrench Reviews
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